James Newton Howard / Photo by Wim Lippens
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (April 15, 2015)—James Newton Howard, one of the most versatile and respected composers working in film today, was named the new artistic director of the Frost School of Music’s Henry Mancini Institute.
Howard succeeds film composer, arranger, and multi-Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and bandleader Terence Blanchard, who has served with distinction as artistic director for the past seven years. Howard’s term will begin in January 2016. An inaugural large-scale concert featuring Howard’s original film music is planned for Spring 2016 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
“The Frost School is very fortunate to welcome James Newton Howard, one of the greatest and most significant film composers over the last 30 years, to oversee the artistic direction of the Henry Mancini Institute,” Frost School Dean Shelton G. Berg said. “James’ experience at the highest level of music making will be invaluable to an educational institution that places real-world excellence at the heart of its activities.”
To date, Howard has received eight Oscar nominations, including six for Best Original Score for his work on Defiance, Michael Clayton, The Village, The Fugitive, The Prince of Tides, and My Best Friend’s Wedding. He also was nominated for Best Original Song for the films Junior and One Fine Day.
Howard, along with Hans Zimmer, won the 2009 Grammy Award for the score for The Dark Knight. He also has received Grammy Award nominations for music from Blood Diamond, Dinosaur, Signs, and the song from One Fine Day. In addition, he won an Emmy Award for the theme to the Andre Braugher series Gideon’s Crossing, and received two additional Emmy nominations for the themes to the long-running Warner Bros. series ER and the Ving Rhames series Men. Howard has also been nominated four times for Golden Globe Awards for his massive orchestral score for Peter Jackson’s blockbuster remake of King Kong; for the songs from Junior and One Fine Day; and for his provocative symphonic score for Defiance.
“Henry Mancini was one of my great musical heroes, and I am delighted and honored to serve as artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute,” Howard said. “I’m eager to begin working with the talented students at Frost School of Music and engage them in an ever-evolving musical world.”
During Blanchard’s term as artistic director, the Mancini Institute Orchestra was named resident orchestra of the popular Jazz Roots series produced by Larry Rosen and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. The HMI Orchestra also performed in three PBS television specials and one HBO special, and recorded multiple CD/DVD projects with international superstars such as George Benson, Gloria Estefan, Chick Corea, and Bobby McFerrin. In 2009, the Henry Mancini Institute received a $500,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to expand the Frost School’s community engagement throughout the South Florida region, and received matching grants from performing arts philanthropists Ginny Mancini and Adrienne Arsht.
Howard will continue the Mancini Institute’s mission to bring genre-blending recording and performance opportunities to more than 65 auditioned Mancini Fellows, plus interactive experiences to all 700 students enrolled at the Frost School. He also will elevate the Mancini Institute’s worldwide reputation through new multimedia and collaborative opportunities.
In addition to his eight Oscar nominations and Grammy Award and nominations, Howard received the 2008 World Soundtrack Award for Film Composer of the Year for his work on the films Charlie Wilson’s War, Michael Clayton, and I Am Legend. He has received the Soundtrack of the Year Award from the Classical BRIT Awards for The Dark Knight (2009) and Blood Diamond (2008). In 2009 he received the Special 5th Anniversary GoldSpirit Award for Best Composer of the Last 5 years (2004-2008) from the Úbeda Film Music Conference in Spain. He has had two concert pieces premiere with the Pacific Symphony—I Would Plant a Tree, performed in February 2009, and most recently his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, performed in March 2015, featuring renowned violinist James Ehnes.
Howard, who has been honored with ASCAP’s prestigious Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement, now has more than 120 films to his credit. Among them are all of M. Night Shyamalan’s films, including The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender. His other wide-ranging credits include all three installments of The Hunger Games, Maleficent, Nightcrawler, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Bourne Legacy, Salt, Water for Elephants, Gnomeo & Juliet, Batman Begins, Collateral, Snow Falling on Cedars, Outbreak, Hidalgo, Peter Pan, Wyatt Earp, Freedomland, Treasure Planet, Falling Down, Primal Fear, Glengarry Glen Ross, Waterworld, The Devil’s Advocate, Dave, and Pretty Woman among many others.
Howard’s success reflects the experiences of a rich musical past. Inspired by his grandmother, a classical violinist who played in the Pittsburgh Symphony in the ’30s and ’40s, he began his studies on the piano at age four. After studying at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and at the USC Thornton School of Music as a piano major, he completed his formal education with orchestration study under legendary arranger Marty Paich.
Though his training was classical, he maintained an interest in rock and pop music, and it was his early work in the pop arena that allowed him to hone his talents as a musician, arranger, songwriter, and producer. He racked up a string of collaborations in the studio and on the road with some of pop’s biggest names, including Elton John; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Barbra Streisand; Earth, Wind and Fire; Bob Seger; Rod Stewart; Toto; Glenn Frey; Diana Ross; Carly Simon; Olivia Newton-John; Randy Newman; Rickie Lee Jones; Cher; and Chaka Khan.
When he was offered his first film, Head Office, in 1985, he knew he had found his calling. His upcoming projects include Francis Lawrence’s final installment of The Hunger Games – Mockingjay, Part 2 and Peter Landesman’s Concussion.